Archive for March, 2012
I know, I know, the title of this post reads as if I’ve made a pop sampler but there’s no Ne-Yo nor Beyonce in sight, just a recently renamed Morning Benders. That’s right, the band former known as The Morning Benders are now called POP ETC because they’ve only now, seven years in, discovered that Bender is derogatory cockney slang for a homosexual. Hard to believe since it was the first thing I thought of when I first saw their name on paper, but there it is. They immediately christened the new name with a new release, a mixtape on the house. It’s a little more synth-centric, the indie rock might be slightly closer to an indie pop, but these days the two are virtually indisitinguishable anyway so we cool. I actually think there’re comparisons to be made between this and the most recent record from NYC band Fun. (who are a massive guilty pleasure of mine), in that both of them push the autotune envelope, have a frontman who can wail, and have underplayed moments of lounge as well as hip-hopesque beats. Below is my choice cut ‘Everything Is Gone’, which would fit perfectly on the next Blackroc record if the vocals were traded for an MC’s verse. Download the whole thing here and make your own assessments.
Pop Etc – ‘Everything Is Gone’
While I’m here, I’m going to come out and say that I’m completely ok with autotune. It’s only the enemy of the Idol/X-Factor singer. I want to hear creative composition and interesting aesthetics, I don’t need an artist to prove they have the best set of pipes on them. It’s become just another tool in the same way reverb is. Obviously, it’s not always the case, but seriously, Sufjan could pee in a cup and I’d still call it Champagne.
To me the the organic and the digital fused most beautifully when I first discovered Candy Claws in December 2009. I remember vividly a sweltering Summer, but most of all I remember driving back from Blueys Beach to see Why? play the Annandale (An artist for another post). On that trip down, my worthy travel companion Nick Hurditch provided a playlist downloaded from a last.fm connection that might have been incredible though I don’t actually remember another track it contained. The key song for me, that will forever remind me of that Summer and that drive, was Catamaran by Candy Claws. It was a deep breathing Summer wash that resonated perfectly with late afternoon drive through sweltering coastal roads with one’s hair whipping about one’s head. It feels unusual writing without my characteristic cynism but my memory of that afternoon is so crisp and pure that I refuse to tarnish it with any half-heartedness.
Anyway, parallel to the memory of that warm afternoon is the memory of that song and in turn the memory of that record. It was (and still is) called In The Dream of the Sea Life and more than most records that I recommend, I demand that you purchase it. Truly, it’s around $7 for the full download so you’d be outright foolish not to. It’s more ambient than almost anything I’ve posted before this and the melody is blurred beneath what I think are the integrated sounds of the ocean, declaring the record title relatively poignant. I am having a genuinely difficult time choosing the right songs for you to stream, and the end I’ve come to these two, though you should hear the album as an unabridged piece of art. It just feels like the product of a very specific time and place. I am all about it.
They had a follow-up record come out further down the trail but it didn’t hold a candle to this thing, despite receiving more critical attention.
Paper Tiger is the second track off Beck’s record “Sea Change”, which is probably one of my favourite records despite being a monumentally sad work that I’ve struggled to push the whole way through, at times.
But it’s also a very beautiful record and whether you need to ingest it in sittings, or think you can straight out stomach it, you should listen to “Sea Change” in its entirety.
This album was produced with Beck’s longtime producer Nigel Godrich, who also works with Radiohead. All of those Radioheadisms that can be heard on Kid A and Amnesiac, are on this record – but in a slicker, cooler, alt-country kind of way. The orchestral sounds, the reverse reverbs, the messed up delays are a vacuum that sucks you into a giant pink baloon, where you float around and watch Beck sitting on a stool playing a giant acoustic guitar. He sings songs about loneliness and everybody cries.
Beck – ‘Paper Tiger’
[nb, Tommy: I am pitching forth the most famous, and another amazing track from the record, 'Lost Cause'. If you haven't heard it before, now is your chance to live.]
Beck – ‘Lost Cause’
What’s up readership, are your lives moving forward? Are you doing all you can to be the best you you can be? I’ll consider this next post a success should it help you to discover your spirit animal. Mine is Channing Tatum, that rugged son of a bean, and just knowing that has unlocked my inner reality and now I’m free to dream big. Think about it. Anyway, Seattle born K Ishibashi (a traditionally Seattle-esque name) performs under the moniker Kishi Bashi and I’m sure glad he does, because his music is a delight to my ear-chambers (trust me, it’s a scientific term, Encarta it). And no, I’m not saying I’m glad he’s making music under that particular title, I’m just saying it’s a good thing he’s making music in general. Maybe if you spent less time analysing my sentence structure and more time focusing on the bigger picture you would have your degree in International Studies already instead of your two subjects per semester and part-time job at the Levis Warehouse.
He is one of the eight members that make up the geographically misleading Of Montreal (from Athens, Georgia) as well as being a member of Jupiter One so this man is no true newcomer. This solo project (which is a new[ish] thing) has turned heads at sxsw this week. For those of you who are wondering (which is likely far more than you’d think) sxsw is an American “industry” event where artists go to perform in front of bigwigs to simultaneously win hearts and contracts. There’re are also punters who just go for the spectacle but in the end it’s an exposure tool.
Kishi Bashi bang out some seriously chirpy numbers that would allow me to reference virtually any band within reason and still be drawing fair comparisons. Importantly, what they don’t do is write vibe songs without direction or progress. There’re some big melodies and there’s a clear trajectory to what the man is trying to achieve, notably in ‘Bright Whites’. He reminds me a little of Shugo Tokumaru (probably because I’m latently racist, but just as probably because they’re both musically joyful and exhuberant). Hit play below.
And for some balance, here’s a slow burner from the his first EP:
His debut record 151A drops in about 2 weeks and you can preorder it here. The mp3 is only $8 and you can splash out and get the physical CD for a $10 total. Avoid purchasing this on itunes (which will probably be $16) else you’ll just be funding apple (who are fine but in no need of your sponsorship). Finders fee goes to Katie Brown.
Slowdim are an interesting band. Their Spirals EP has been tagged on bandcamp with the terms ‘dreamcore’ and ‘lo-fi’, and though I’ll not pretend I know what those mean, I think it hints at the way their loose steel strings, flat voices and melodic guitar lines come through with some kind of crackle on the tracks. It works for me in a surprising way, most notably on the two standouts, ‘Don’t Cough Me Out’ and ‘take your heart that’s solely free’ (their upper and lower casing, not mine). On the latter in particular the homemade rhythms and ever-present beat make for an enjoyable piece of ‘indie-pop’.
On the subject of pop, the guitar and vocals on ‘Tallest Trees’ honestly made me think of The Beatles’ ‘Getting Better’, and with each song coming in at around two minutes, Slowdim make The Beatles look like Pink Floyd. It’s light, but for me it brings to mind a time when pop music was amazing, and though that time was long before my birth, here’s hoping Slowdim and every other amazing band from the land of the free can put Lady Gaghanna back in her cave, and bring talent back into fashion. You didn’t hear it first, but you did hear it here.
Slowdim – ‘take your only heart that’s solely free’
Slowdim – ‘Don’t Cough Me Out’
More to be heard at their bandcamp.